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Are there any good reasons why political parties should exist?
The first question to be asked is why political parties came into existence. The main point appears to be a group of individuals who wanted to promote a certain philosophy. Political parties have been a way of life for our political system but there is no mention of political parties in the Constitution. In the early days of our country the concept of political parties was nonexistent and Presidents and Vice Presidents were elected by electors chosen by each of the states. Electors are mentioned in the Constitution but not political parties. The Articles of Confederation which was our country’s first attempt at a Constitution and was written without the influence of political parties.
The influence of political parties is stronger today than when they first came into existence. The impact can be seen in the election process not only in the nomination process but the gridlock in Congress is a result of our political party system. This raises questions of whether we should have political parties involved in our election process or in managing the government. Two events resulted in a political party system. One was the introduction of secret ballots that enabled free voting for party nominees and the second was a rejection of the party convention system for candidate selection.
Our present election process involving political parties need to be closely examined. Political parties did not exist until the terms of President Andrew Jackson and Martin Van Buren starting in 1829. Our election system changed to some extent as political parties came into existence.
Primary elections are another aspect of our political system but these too are not mentioned in the Constitution. In fact there is no mention of how elections should be held leaving the details of the process up to each individual state. The first primary election was held in Florida in 1901 and by 1926 primary election laws were in place in 40 of the 50 states. Though the point of the party elections is to select a single member of the party for the "real" election, the courts have still exerted influence, reasoning that through primaries, disenfranchisement can be effected.
The existence of political parties some of which have come and gone over the years today has enormous power in the election process and that power has been given to them by the states. Some may say that political parties have lost the right to have the impact they have today. Public opinion of political parties is low like Congress and the President which basically comes from the way they funnel money in various races to impact the results. Political parties have a philosophy which may not necessarily agree with the needs of the country. Once in power they tend to push their philosophy not the needs of the country.
While there are some good reasons for the existence of political parties there are also some negative reasons associated with the philosophy and actions of any political party. Political parties are basically a movement situation bringing together individuals overall with the same philosophy. It is an exercise of the right to free speech. Individuals who are not associated with a political party are hampered in their efforts to get noticed for their ideas and philosophy. This is one way there is a negative impact on the political process. Another aspect of the existence of political parties can be exhibited in the gridlock in Congress. Each of the two major parties cannot seem to get along to do the business of the country.
The question to be answered is whether the good outweighs the bad for keeping the current process we now have. The answer is up to each of us as individuals to decide as each of us have a right to our opinions. Even if we feel the current election process should be change regarding political parties eliminating them restricts the right of free speech engrained in the Constitution. Without political parties there would be more opportunities for individuals to get involved with running for a government position. If elections were held today without any reference to a political party voters would be required to evaluate the candidates based on their philosophy and proposed actions to address applicable issues whether it is at the local, state or federal level. In this type of election the top two individuals would face each other in the general election.
One of the changes which seem to be occurring is the fact that individuals while part of a political party they do not vote 100% related to party policy or program. They make up their own minds on proposed legislation before them. In some ways the existence of political parties is changing where individuals are standing up for the Constitution and what is right for our country. I feel that once an individual is elected to Congress that the designation of being affiliated with a specific party should be removed. This potentially may remove some of the gridlock where one party does not like the other party’s proposal and would become associated with the individual proposing the action not a party. Individuals tend to work together while political parties do not unless they are forced into the situation.